WEST HARTFORD — There are plans for another COVID vaccination clinic location in town — one that an official says will “significantly” bump up inoculation capacity.
Through a partnership between the town, health district and Wakefern Food Corporation, “a larger-scale vaccination clinic” will open in April and could extend to May, according to town manager Matt Hart. It would be at the former ShopRite on Kane Street.
“We’re not going to use the whole store as a clinic, but we’ll certainly be able to increase our capacity significantly,” Hart said in a town council meeting last week. “In fact, we’ll be able to double it.”
One of the places where clinics have occurred in West Hartford is in the Town Hall auditorium. According to Hart’s written town manager report from last week, the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District’s town hall clinics dispense “over 600 vaccines weekly.” With “adequate supply,” the new location would “double that number of vaccinations,” according to the report.
“And that’ll enable us to make even more progress,” he said.
With COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanding to everyone 16 and older on Thursday, providers across the state will soon be managing an increased volume of people who can get shots in arms.
Aimee Krauss, director of the West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, said the district “will be evaluating” whether to request Pfizer doses, which can be administered to those 16 and older. The health district has been receiving Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which are intended only for those 18 and older.
“We are encouraging people to have patience and we’ll continue to provide the vaccine as we receive the allocation,” she said.
As of March 19, Krauss didn’t have concerns about the process speeding up.
“I’m excited for individuals to be able to receive the vaccine, and again we’re going to continue with our partnerships in the community, so our community health centers, our other COVID vaccine providers,” she said.
The state hopes to see people who have higher-risk medical conditions be given priority as eligibility opens up.
“We’re following the eligibility requirements that have been provided to us from the governor’s office or from DPH,” Krauss said. As of March 19, she said she hadn’t been given guidance beyond that.
Krauss also said the health district is aiming to have a new electronic records system “up and running fairly soon.”
Part of the rationale for moving to this system, which cost $27,000, was to make it more accessible for residents, Krauss said in March.
Krauss said in a February interview the district bought the new system “because we saw the difficulty that people were having with registering in VAMS.” Challenges included providing an email address and “being able to navigate the system,” according to Krauss.
“It would be almost like a physician’s office where you would be able to call, make an appointment, and then we would send a reminder by either telephone or text message,” Krauss said in February of the new system. “And so that was the reason we purchased it.”
The state’s website outlines a five-step process for getting a vaccination appointment via the Vaccine Administration Management System, known as VAMS — a procedure that requires each person to have a unique email address.
According to a state vaccination-related map, about 37 percent of West Hartford’s population received at least an initial shot as of March 24.
Residents have also been taking advantage of some vaccine-related programs in town, such as the vaccine information line and the At-Risk Community Health Program, which both started in February.
As of Hart’s update to the council last week, the line had received about 825 calls since Feb. 8. And the ARCH program had allowed about 45 people who “have some type of mobility issue that prevents them from getting to a local clinic” to get a vaccine, Hart said last week.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to clarify that the new clinic location could have greater vaccination capacity than the Town Hall clinic site.